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US Army boots make great riding boots

Wellco army boots

When we began riding in the 1970s, all our motorcycle riding gear came from the army disposal shop because the gear was strong, reliable, weatherproof, warm/cool and, best of all, cheap!

These days most people only wear riding gear made by specialist motorcycle outfitters. It’s also strong, reliable, weatherproof, warm/cool, but sometimes expensive.

It seems that some companies charge more simply because it’s dedicated to motorcycle riders.

The same gear bought from an adventure or workwear store may turn out to be a lot cheaper.

When I rode in the Compass Expeditions Outback Tour a few years ago with Charley Boorman, I noticed that he wears adventure hiking shoes, even though he is sponsored by motorcycle apparel companies!

Charley Boorman in adventure shoes army riding boots army
Charley Boorman in adventure shoes

While most of my riding gear is made by dedicated motorcycle apparel companies, there are some items that come from adventure stores, ski shops (especially during their off-season sales), army disposals, workwear shops and even chain stores like Kmart and Aldi.

Obviously, you can’t replace helmets and some protective gear. However, some motorcycle boots are nothing more than you can buy in an adventure store.

My latest general touring boots are actually US Army hot-weather combats boots made by American company Wellco.

They are robust, comfortable, strong, weatherproof, cool and they make great summer riding boots.

The Wellco T109 Hot Weather Side Zipper Tactical Boots cost me only $97 delivered to my door through eBay.

Wellco army riding boots

I’ve got other casual motorcycle boots in my wardrobe that cost two and three times that amount, but are no better.

One of the great things about these boots is the zip up the side.

First time you put them on, you do up the laces nice and tight for a firm fit so they won’t come off in a crash.

Then every time you put them on or take them off, you use the zip and leave the laces exactly where they are for a perfect fit.

Yet you can slip the boots on and whip them off in seconds.

The low-profile, lightweight leather boots have a nonslip oil-resistant rubber sole, moisture-wicking lining, solid non-twist construction, reinforced-stitched midsole and don’t have a metal toe, so you can wear them through the scanner at an airport. That makes them a great travel boot.

The low profile also means they won’t get caught between the footpeg and gear lever.

Obviously they are not made for cutting a lap time around Phillip Island, but they are quite suitable for tourers and everyday use.

And when you arrive at your destination, you can go for a walk – or army hike! – without having to change your boots because these have a very comfortable insole.

Wellco has been making military boots since 1941 and if they’re strong enough for combat, they will probably do the job on a bike.

  1. There are some traps though… it would be wise to consider:
    – ankle bone protection (or at least be aware you won’t get it)
    – oil-resistant soles (non-oil-resistant rubber will be very slippery in oil/petrol/etc around traffic lights and petrol stations)
    – tuckaway laces or similar so that you don’t get tangled in your footpegs
    – steel shank (the part inside the sole that spreads the load across your whole foot so that footpegs don’t make the arch of your foot hurt).

  2. I’ve a number of different pairs of issue boots on my bike…CABs, jungle boots and Meindl Desert Fox, and they’ve all been great (even did my CBT in junglies). Touch wood I’ve never had to crash test them mind.

    I always solved the loose lace problem by rolling my socks over the top of the boot, and I’m pretty sure most issue boots will have oil-resistant soles (we spend a lot of time climbing over and refuelling vehicles, after all). Always do your own checks before you buy though.

  3. Mark,

    I feel your review does a disservice to the motorcycle community by not expressing the negatives of wearing this type of casual boot. You’ve mentioned comfort and price as positives but you seem to have completely glazed over the problems of these types of boots.

    An proper boot has shin plates and calf plates that offer support and resistance for impacts. They also typically have medial side ankle protection and steel shanks co-injected into the insole. In addition they have waterproof membranes that will help keep your feet dry and comfortable.

    Just last week I had a very benign get-off. Unfortunately, during the fall I failed to clear my foot in time and my 440 lb adventure bike landed on my foot and lower leg. Fortunately, The boot provided the needed protection and I was able to remove my foot and keep riding.

    The industry offers enough mid-height boot option that we can have both the protection and the comfort we need for the types of riding you show in your pictures.

    Ride safe,

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